Climate Change and Biodiversity
‘Climate change’ refers to long-term changes in average climate conditions or in climate variability, normally sustained over decades or centuries. A severe storm, a few warm days in winter or a spate of unusually heavy rain should not be taken as instances of climate change in action. Taken on their own, events like these are no more than vagaries of the weather. A long-term, statistically significant incidence of extreme weather events and changes in average conditions are needed before we can speak of there being signs of climate change. Climate statistics for the past century provide evidence of climate change in the form of global warming by more than 0.7 °C. This is confirmed among other things by retreating glaciers in many mountain and polar regions. A large body of scientific findings indicate that the climate change currently being observed is largely a result of human activity, notably the burning of fossil fuels and effects of land use on vegetation cover. The climate change projected for the next few decades includes rising temperatures (‘global warming’), rising sea levels, geographical shifts in precipitation and increased incidence of extreme weather events, with huge local variation in amplitude. For Germany, the projections point first and foremost to higher temperatures and altered precipitation patterns. In particular, most areas will experience drier summers. All of these phenomena can affect biodiversity. In many cases, climate change adds to existing threats. Alongside habitat loss and degradation, climate change is therefore one of the greatest threats to the diversity of life on Earth.
A German-language overview of the subject and related BfN activities is provided in ‘Biologische Vielfalt und Klimawandel – Gefahren, Chancen, Handlungsoptionen’ (‘Biodiversity and Climate Change: Dangers, Opportunities and Options for Action’) in the BfN-Skripten publication series ( BfN-Skripten 148, 2006, pdf-file (220 KB). Much of the content of these pages originated in this publication. In April 2008 and March 2010, BfN also held symposia on biodiversity and climate change. Numerous presentations from various experts are available for downloading (in german only)
More information on the subject is provided in the following links:
Research Projects related to "Climate change and Biodiversity" (available only in german)